Sea Safety

Stonehaven and the surrounding areas boasts some amazing coastline with cliffs, inlets, beaches, harbours and coves. With care and some preparation both the coast and the dramatic North Sea itself can be enjoyed safely. Some information for specific local activities can be found below. Additional information can be found on the RNLI water safety page. As with any outdoor activty it is advisable to check the weather forecast and wear suitable clothing before setting out.


There are many beaches along the coastline including St. Cyrus bay and Stonehaven. Stonehaven beach is a designated bathing water location however is not patrolled by lifeguards or marked by flags. Many beaches have rocky outcrops and care should be taken not to be stranded during changing tides. If you are intending on entering the water make sure that the surf/wave conditions are appropriate to your skill level and that there may be rip currents present. Children in particular are vulnerable to being dragged into surf involuntarily due to their smaller size.


The local harbours can be very busy with both local businesses and visitors, particularly during the summer months. Pay attention when walking along peirs and jettys for obstacles, ropes and unprotected drops, in addition to motorised traffic and machinery. Do not jump from sea walls or peirs, the water may be shallower than expected.

It is common during storms for waves to surge over the sea walls and flood the peir behind, exercise caution in the harbour in these conditions. Please obey instructions given by any harbour staff.

The lifeboat is launched from Stonehaven harbour. During launch and recovery please follow the instructions of the marshalls who will be identifiable by hi-vis vests with “RNLI” marked on the rear.


Much of the coastline between Montrose and Aberdeen is rocky and between the many bays rises to high sea cliffs. This makes for dramatic walking routes such as those at Fowlsheugh RSPB reserve and Dunottar Castle. These paths can come close to sheer edges and care must be taken at all times. Wear appropriate footwear for uneven ground which may be slippery and bear in mind that gusts of wind are commonplace at the exposed cliff edges. Please also be mindful that the cliffs are home to many seabirds; dogs can chase birds over the cliff itself.

Open Water Swimming

Open water swimming is becoming more popular, even here in the North East of Scotland! If this sounds like the sport for you, always swim with a buddy and use a personal swim buoy. This piece of equipment helps make you more visible to other water users and provides some buoyancy if you become tired. A buoy is particularly importarnt if you are using the calmer waters in the harbour as this is a higher traffic area.


The local surf spot is at the south end of the main Stonehaven beach. This is within sight of the lifeboat station but doesn’t mean you should take any less care when out on the waves. Despite it’s proximity to the town it can be quite solitary, especially when the weather is poor and it is important to consider safety advice including surfing with a buddy.

Sea Kayaking

Planning trips along the local shoreline have to be made with care as there are long stretches without easy landing places and the sea can be very rough with little shelter from the swell. Strongly consider taking VHF radio, Locator Beacon and flare for use in emergency. As with any water based activity it is advisable to seek training and only undertake activity within your skill level.